6 Strategies to Maintain Relevant Virtual Learning Programs

February 13, 2018 10:23 by Dana Peters
Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to the long-term survival of the virtual instructor-led training (vILT) programs you develop and deploy in the ever changing organization you serve. As a learning and development professional, are you prepared to respond quickly when: Leadership changes happen? A merger or acquisition is announced? The vision, mission, or goals of the company shift? A swing in your market place occurs, positive or negative? You, your colleagues, and your vILT programs must be flexible and prepared to react to these changes. But how? We suggest the following strategies: Develop Rough Action Plans   Take time to think about realistic scenarios you could face in the near future that would impact the effectiveness of your vILT programs dramatically. Develop a rough action plan to give you a leg up if one of these scenarios were to actually occur.   Follow a Continuous Improvement Process   Once you’ve designed and implemented a vILT program, it’s important to maintain it to make sure your program continues to be relevant and aligns with the needs of the business. Reviewing your vILT programs on a regular basis allows you to refresh portions of each program as updates are needed. Without a continuous review and evaluation, your program can quickly become obsolete, and without the occasional minor update, you may experience the need for a complete overhaul to your program. Or, worse yet, the program in question may be seen as bringing no value and be eliminated altogether.   Evaluate Your Program’s Impact   In line with continuously reviewing your vILT programs, it’s important to survey your learners and the business on a regular basis. Gaining feedback from your learners will help you make sure you’re meeting their individual needs. Surveying the business will confirm you are meeting the company’s learning goals and objectives.   Educate and Inform Leadership   As a learning and development professional, you know your programs inside and out. Your leadership team may not. In order to showcase the value of your programs, involve leadership in the process. Make sure they are aware of how the vILT programs are meeting the needs of the business, and share with them the feedback you collect from your learners. For more information on how best to track the value of your vILT programs, check out our previous post: Designing Virtual Learning That Pays Off: Measuring Success Back on the Job.   Enlist Advocates to Help Communicate Value and Results   Along the lines of educating your leadership team, vILT programs should be championed at all levels of the company. If the value of your programs has been communicated effectively, when changes occur in the company that impact your offerings, you’ll have the advantage of advocates on many fronts. If changes to your programs need to be made, multiple perspectives from your advocates can diversify the conversation on how to meet needs.   Be Proactive   Once a new vILT program is underway, it’s important for your Learning and Development team to remain engaged. Monitor the learner feedback and regularly check in with the leadership team to make sure your program is still on target with company objectives and goals. Being “high touch” will allow your Learning and Development team to proactively recommend changes on the front side rather than reacting after the fact. Your ability to maintain flexibility within your vILT programs will ensure its long- term success. What strategies have you implemented to maintain a robust and relevant learning program that meets the needs of the business you serve?

The Modern Learner: Are You Meeting Their Needs?

January 30, 2018 18:10 by Dana Peters
Thanks to several factors, five generations make up today’s workforce; each with their own unique aspirations, motivations, and life experiences. It’s quite possible today’s workforce is the most diverse any business leader has experienced. From a training standpoint, the changing workforce and the emergence of new technology has changed the definition of what today’s learner looks like regardless of generation. The modern learner knows no age. It’s imperative that companies and learning development professionals continually grow and adapt their learning culture to meet the expectations of today’s learner. Reaching today’s learner begins with understanding who they are and what they want.   We’ve developed a short list to define today’s modern learner. Knowing and understanding who today’s modern learner is, can help you decide if your company is doing everything it can to reach them effectively.    Today’s modern learner is…   Requires Convenience   Today’s learner is on the go. They want to be able to ‘learn’ everywhere they are. This can mean accessing learning opportunities from their desk computer and phone, but it can also mean accessing it from home, accessing it from a tablet, or from their mobile device, whenever and wherever they want to.   Seeks Instant Gratification Time is valuable for today’s learner. They are often overwhelmed and overworked and almost always distracted by some internal or external force. Statistic Brain Research Institute reports that the average attention span of today’s adult is just 8 seconds. That means in 8 seconds or less, your learner will decide if your session is worth his or her time. Clearly stating the objectives up front, the course agenda, and intended benefits of the session will hold the learners attention for the duration of the session. Mixed media including video, activities, and small group work will also help retain learners’ attention. In addition, today’s learner wants answers now. On demand learning is crucial for today’s learner. That’s why technology like Google, Alexa, and Suri are so popular. It’s important to make sure your company can provide opportunities and resources for in the moment and on demand learning.    Demands Value & Relevance   This too plays into gratification. Today’s modern learner wants it all. Not only do they demand instant gratification and convenience. They want big returns on their investment of time and energy. Time is valuable and today’s learner does not want to spend time away from day-to-day work for something that has little or no relevance to their current responsibilities or doesn’t enhance their potential for that next promotion or career move.   In Control   The modern learner wants to be in control of his or her learning and development. They want options and choices and they want to be in control of their career and development path. Learning choices should vary in content, in length, in availability, and in medium. The modern learner does not need mandatory learning and development requirements to learn. They choose learning, but it must be flexible, convenient, and on their own terms.   Collaborative   Social elements drive today’s society, both on the personal and professional front. Today’s learners rely on Google for answers and they look to peers and colleagues to provide them with the ability to support their learning on the job. In fact, Bersin reports that nearly 80 percent of workforce learning happens via on the job interactions with peers, teammates, and managers. As stated above, the modern learner wants to learn. They want to grow and adapt to be more successful on their job and they want to share their ideas and collaborate with other like-minded professionals.   I want to be clear, the modern learner can be found in all generations. Too often, these discussions take place with a focus on serving a younger, more technology focused generation.  A Baby Boomer, for example, can appreciate the convenience and technology virtual learning provides just as much (or even more) than a millennial.   Now that you know more about what the modern learner looks like, is your company doing everything it can to reach them?   Let us know in the comments below!  

Learning Trends to Watch in 2018

January 9, 2018 15:25 by Dana Peters
  With the New Year upon us, we look ahead towards the opportunities in our field to meet the needs of our clients. Based on our conversations with our clients, the following are the hot topics on their project radars for 2018.   Mobile Learning Mobile devices are everywhere. This is not a new trend. Learning professionals continue to adapt in order to accommodate learners’ mobile lifestyles. Companies have already started moving their content to mobile platforms and applications. Employees rely on mobile devices to access information and training content while on the job. This trend goes beyond the formal training session to meeting the learners where they are, when they need the information. Mobile learning also supports another trend we see gaining in popularity: Microlearning. Microlearning Time is valuable. So is training. Companies are starting to realize that not every training opportunity needs (or can) be a two day training session. Our clients have started to take advantage of microlearning opportunities, short bursts of learning that employees can consume in a short period of time. The trend suggests that as more people continue to do more with less, microlearning techniques are better received and retained by employees. We expect this trend to continue. Content Curation Part of content curation again speaks to the individuals desire to have knowledge at their finger tips. The increase in accessibility of the internet, particularly on mobile devices, puts answers in front of people almost immediately. In a learning atmosphere, we can use that thirst for knowledge by curating relevant and accurate information in one place for employees. We see this happening with unique internal content such as company manuals, policies, procedures etc., but also by leveraging relevant and useful existing content from external sources. This might be content on federal regulations, from law libraries, or targeted general topics such as proper email etiquette, or health and wellness information. Big Data As today’s business world continues to move in a digital direction, data in the business world becomes easier to collect and use. Industries across the board are realizing the value of collecting that information and the learning industry is no different. Again, not a new trend, but we see our clients continuing to capture analytics on learning tool utilization, content access, and knowledge application on the job.  Using the data helps learning and development professionals quantify activity and show value they can directly link to business results. Distributed Workforce This is also a trend we have continued to see grow over the past several years. As more employees desire flexible work schedules and technology continues to improve working from home, larger groups of employees are able to do their jobs remotely. A remote workforce can present new challenges. Managers leading remote teams need different skills to support their teams successfully. Our clients and other learning professionals continue to enhance learning curriculum in support of the skills necessary for both individual contributors and managers to be successful in a remote work environment. Gamification of Learning This is a trend we will explore in more detail later this year, but we do see this trend continuing to gain traction in 2018. New studies indicate that some forms of game based learning have higher retention rates than more traditional methods. We see some clients exploring gamification methods to take the mundane out of mandatory training requirements and encourage employees to engage in the learning process. Some organizations are exploring new ways to ‘gamify’ their existing learning programs for their in house training, compliance courses, information security, and other procedural trainings. As we kick off 2018, we will be on the lookout for these and other trends in the industry, and will continue to share our resources and experiences. Wishing you great success in the year ahead.

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Learning Trends

Need Better Results From Your Subject Matter Experts?

December 12, 2017 10:23 by Dana Peters
At Mondo Learning Solutions we’re committed to helping our clients grow, which is why we try to pass along the best and latest resources to help in your business. Our friends and colleagues at Chicago-based Turpin Communication recently released a new book, “Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide for Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning”. This book is one you will want to have in your library. We regularly work with subject matter experts (SMEs) in the virtual classroom, which has both its advantages and disadvantages. As Turpin suggests, SMEs do bring credibility and relevance to the classroom, but that is often not enough to deliver an effective session. For many SMEs the training environment is unfamiliar terrain. They are often authorities on a particular topic, not on adult learning and aren’t necessarily familiar with effective facilitation techniques.  I like this book specifically because it comes from a place of experience. Authors Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger leverage decades of work helping presenters, instructional designers, and subject matter experts become better communicators. They use detailed and relatable workplace scenarios plucked directly from their own experiences to assist readers in learning about a variety of learning situations. The book serves as a blueprint for managing SME-led training with the underlying premise that successful training stems from a place of communication and an understanding of everyone’s role.It also digs into best practices for coaching your SMEs. It’s available for purchase on Amazon.com and most bookstores, and the first chapter is available for free on the Association for Talent Development website. Give it a look.

Virtual Learning Programs That Survive and Thrive

September 26, 2017 13:33 by Dana Peters
Adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to the long-term survival of the virtual instructor-led training (vILT) programs you design, develop, and deploy. Continuous change is the environment most organizations are operating in, which means we need to move with change as Learning and Development professionals. And certainly we want to do more than just “weather the storm”. We want to thrive as we forge ahead to meet the business needs of the ever changing organizations we serve.Are you prepared to respond quickly when: Leadership changes are made? A merger or acquisition is announced? The vision, mission, and/or goals of the company shift? A swing in your market place occurs, positive or negative? You, your colleagues, and your vILT programs must be nimble and flexible enough to adapt to these changes. But how? We suggest a proactive approach that includes the following five actions. Develop Rough Action Plans. Take time to think about realistic scenarios that you could face in the near future. Develop a rough action plan to give you a leg up if the scenario were to actually occur. Invest Time in Continuous Improvement Processes. Once you’ve designed and implemented your vILT programs, it’s important to maintain lines of communication to make sure your programs continue to align with the company mission and leadership’s goals. Reviewing your vILT courses on a regular basis allows you to refresh portions of the content as changes and updates are needed. Without a continuous review, your course can quickly become obsolete, and without the occasional minor update, you may experience the need for a complete overhaul of your course design. Or it may be seen as bringing no value and be eliminated altogether. Ask for Feedback From Your Learners. In line with continuously reviewing your vILT programs, it’s important to gather feedback from your learners on a regular basis. The collection of learners’ needs over time helps you to understand how job functions are changing and what skill development opportunities would bring the most value to the business. This intel should help you bring the right learning opportunities, to the right people, at the right time. Educate and Inform Leadership. As Learning and Development professionals you probably know your programs inside and out. Your leadership team may not. In order to showcase the value of your programs it’s important to involve leadership in the process. Make sure they are aware of how the vILT programs are performing. Specifically, how they are meeting the needs of the business. For more information on how best to track the value of your vILT program, check out our post: Designing Virtual Learning That Pays Off: Measuring Success Back on the Job. Communicate Value and Results. Along the lines of educating your leadership team, vILT programs should be championed at all levels of the company. If the value of your programs have been communicated effectively; when changes occur, you’ll have the advantage of advocates on many fronts. If updates to your programs do need to be made, multiple perspectives can diversify the conversation on how best to do that. These proactive efforts will help to secure your vILT programs long-term success, and the consistent, high quality learning opportunities your learning population needs to be successful on the job. What other actions have you taken to be sure your virtual learning programs can survive and thrive through the changes that may lie ahead?

Designing Virtual Learning That Pays Off (Part 2)

August 22, 2017 08:53 by Dana Peters
Measuring Success Back on the Job   In our last post, we discussed building the pathway to learning application to help learners apply what they have learned in the virtual classroom back on the job. This was the first of two items we believe need to be included in the design of virtual learning programs in order to make sure valuable resources (time and money) do not go to waste. As a reminder from the Part 1 post, those two things we need to include are A “post learning event path” that helps our learners apply what they have learned back on the job. A plan to measure results back on the job. This plan should address the following two statements:  We know we are successful when_________________.  We will measure that success by__________________. With number one under our belt, today we’re going to talk about the plan to specifically measure those results back on the job. When it comes to measuring and evaluating learning, I turn to my colleague who is an expert in this area, Ken Phillips, CEO of Phillips Associates. You are probably familiar with the Kirkpatrick Model with the four levels of learning evaluation. Ken outlines these levels in his article: “Learn the Secrets of Survey Design”. In summary those levels are:   Level 1: identifies learner reaction to your program. Level 2: measures whether or not your learners learned anything. Level 3: measures whether or not learners actually applied what they learned back on the job. Level 4: measures whether the business has improved as a result of the applied learning. For the purposes of this post we are going to focus in on Level 3 and Level 4. For a Level 3 survey to be effective, Ken provides several tips in regard to content, format, and measurement. As mentioned, more details can be found in Ken’s “Learn the Secrets of Survey Design” article. Unlike a survey issued to the learner immediately following your virtual learning program (Level 1), the Level 3 evaluation should also involve those interacting with the learner, often referred to as observers.  Observers (those that work with, for, or supervise the learner) are in the position to provide valuable feedback on observable behaviors they are experiencing in their interactions with the learner. Interviews, surveys, and 360-degree assessments are solid tools to support Level 3 evaluation. Level 4 evaluations, according to Ken, are the holy grail of evaluations. I agree. The c-level executives are looking for evidence of business results from their investment in learning and development. Ken suggests thinking about Level 4 evaluations in two phases: (1) Identifying business metrics that have a strong relationship with learning program content and (2) connecting the learning program to the business metrics. Check out Ken’s article: “The Holy Grail of Learning Evaluations: Level 4” for more details. How about you? How do you achieve Level 3 and 4?

Say What You Mean: Defining Learning Lingo for Your Organization.

June 6, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters
We’ve all heard (and regularly use) terms like e-learning, webinar, web-based training, virtual training, digital learning, and distance learning.  However, ask ten people what e-learning means and you’re likely to get ten different answers.I’ve had the pleasure of working with all sorts of clients, large and small, with varying degrees of sophistication within their learning and development departments. Working with different clients means learning their learning culture’s unique language. Even the simplest of terms may mean something different to the client than it does to me and the Mondo Learning Solutions team members on the project. To make things more confusing, terms are often used interchangeably, even though technically, they do have different meanings. If you are in a situation where an outside professional is assisting you with the development and delivery of learning programs, establishing definitions is important. If that weren’t enough, let’s consider the other internal folks outside of our profession. While the learning terms used may be clear to everyone on your learning and development team, it may not be clear to your learners or stakeholders. Taking from my personal experience, I think of this issue a little bit like the different terms or words for items used all over the country. The same terms to name certain items in Wisconsin, where I’m based, might be called something completely different in a different part of the country.  A few examples: bubbler and drinking fountain, shopping cart and buggy, or even pop and soda. Not having moved here until I was 24, imagine my surprise when someone asked me where the bubbler was.When defining terms related to learning delivery methods, you want to make sure everyone is on the same page. Let’s take a quick look at the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) official definitions for the following terms: Web-based Training (WBT): Delivery of educational content via a Web browser over the public Internet, a private intranet, or an extranet. Web-based training often provides links to other learning resources such as references, email, bulletin boards, and discussion groups. WBT also may include a facilitator who can provide course guidelines, manage discussion boards, deliver lectures, and so forth. When used with a facilitator, WBT offers some advantages of instructor-led training while also retaining the advantages of computer-based training. E-learning: A wide set of applications and processes, such as web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio- and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM, and more. Webinar: A small synchronous online learning event in which a presenter and audience members communicate via text chat or audio about concepts often illustrated via online slides and/or an electronic whiteboard. Webinars are often archived as well for asynchronous, on-demand access. ILT (instructor-led training): Usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners. The term is used synonymously with on-site training and classroom training (c-learning). Asynchronous Learning: Learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay. Examples are self-paced courses taken via the Internet or CD-ROM, Q&A mentoring, online discussion groups, and email. Synchronous Learning: A real-time, instructor-led online learning event in which all participants are logged on at the same time and communicate directly with each other. In this virtual classroom setting, the instructor maintains control of the class, with the ability to "call on" participants. In most platforms, students and teachers can use a whiteboard to see work in progress and share knowledge. Interaction may also occur via audio or video conferencing, Internet telephony, or two-way live broadcasts. While these may be the official definitions for the profession, organizations across the country have their own “dialect”.  This is where it can be challenging.As you can see, virtual instructor-led training (vILT) is not defined independently by ATD, but that is the term, we here at Mondo Learning Solutions, use to define what others might call synchronous learning, a webinar, or even e-learning.I agree that official definitions are helpful, but what is more important is that everyone is on the same page. Existing company vocabulary and semantics might mean your company refers to a web-based training as a webinar, or a vILT class as e-learning, and that’s ok. As long as everyone is aware of those semantics and what is actually being defined. What about you? Has definition differences of common training terms caused any problems within your organization? We’d love to hear your stories.  

Making the Pitch: Selling Your Executives on Virtual Learning (Part 1)

April 19, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters
Companies today often have thousands of employees spread across multiple office locations and facilities. Business today is global. In order to operate competitively and develop and retain top talent, more and more organizations are turning to virtual instructor-led training (vILT) programs to support their skills development needs and competency attainment goals. Learning and Development Professionals probably understand the benefits of vILT, but how do you gain executive level support to sponsor your vILT programs?  The answer to this question requires us to take off our learning and development hats for a moment and put on our sales hat. What is your sales process for gaining executive level support? Let’s look at a common five step sales model, and think about how it applies to our situation: Planning the Call. Spend time planning and preparing for those first conversations with the executive. Decide early on your approach, expected responses, and potential questions and challenges the executive may raise. Identifying Needs. Understand the problems your executive is trying to resolve, the goals they are working toward, or the projects they have on the horizon. Identifying the needs will help you understand (and later on the executive) how a vILT program can meet those needs. If you don’t understand your executive’s needs, how can you propose a solution? Presenting your Solution. Once you understand how you could help your executive, you are in a position to present your solution. Here is where you will want to demonstrate how vILT will solve their problem. (Part II of this post). Make sure you keep the conversation on track by focusing on what is important to the executive and how your vILT solutions resolves the needs discussed. Relevancy is key to success here. Be concise and stick with what matters most to your executive. Manage Feedback. Presenting the solution will start the process of receiving feedback from the executive. Feedback may come from either direction, positive or negative. If the feedback is positive: “This is great, what are the next steps?” move on to Step 5. If there are some objections or concerns: “I am not sure this type of training will truly be effective,” there is still some work to be done. If the feedback you receive is negative, start by digging in to the executive’s concerns to learn more about the need with questions. This may mean a return to Step 2. Gaining Commitment. The final part of the process is gaining commitment. We have to ask for it to get it. A simple step that is some times overlooked. Our hope is that you will find this five step sales model to be a great starting point when planning your conversations to win over executives on your vILT solutions. This process will take some time and effort on your part, but by addressing the specific needs and concerns your executives are facing within the business, vILT can be showcased as a very appealing option. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where we will explore several business needs that we commonly see our clients solve with their vILT programs.  

Engaging Learners Through Text Messages?

October 16, 2013 15:23 by Dana Peters
We have a new principal at my daughter’s high school. As you can imagine, change is in the air. One initiative has caught my attention: the principal directly communicating via text with the entire high school community. This has engaged me with the high school at a new level. When something engages me personally, I think about how it might be applied to the learning and development space. Here’s the story. Around mid-August, I received a simple email inviting me to sign up to receive the principal’s high school community text messages. Using a mass text program, the principal was going to be interacting with the high school community as a whole (students, teachers, and parents). I liked this idea because: 1) I wanted to get a feel for this new principal from a distance and 2) I didn’t have to work very hard to do it. (I am busy, not lazy). I signed up and my daughter did too. Almost immediately the messages started dribbling in, one or two a day. Sometimes it’s just a link to the daily announcements or a reminder about a big upcoming event. Other times, to recognize a student interest club’s accomplishment or just a random thought or observation the principal thought worthy of sharing. As the receiver, here is what I like about this means of communication: Important information is coming to me instantly and to a place where I am (so to speak).  I don’t know about you, but text messages are front and center on my communications radar. I see them before I read an email or listen to a voice mail. It’s brief and to the point. One sentence tells me what I need to know. The provided link is there to dive deeper if I want to.  Sometime I click on the link for more information, sometimes I don’t. This level of brevity also makes it very easy to search for a specific message or nugget of information at a later time.  The tone of the messages has a very personal touch. As a result, I feel more in tune and more connected to what is happening at school and with the high school community as a whole. I also have a better sense for the principal and his approach to leading the school. So what if we applied this to the learning environment? Our learners could receive timely information quickly, in a place they are already paying attention to (where they already are), their text messages. One sentence communicates the high level message. A link is provided if they want/need more detail and is easily retrieved later, when needed. Messages could be targeted to the right people. We would want to keep it relevant, casual, and give it a personal touch. Would our learners feel more in tune and connected? Have you used technology in this way? I would love to hear your stories, please comment and share below.

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eLearning | Learning | Learning Trends

How Do We Want to Be Perceived?

June 14, 2013 10:35 by Dana Peters
I was on the road earlier this week with Greg Owen-Boger from Turpin Communication. Turpin is one of my Learning Partners and we were in Appleton, WI, for the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Training & Development’s monthly program. The chapter goes by NEW ASTD for short. [More]

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Learning Trends | Train the Trainer | Turpin Communication